Health Minister George Pamboridis on Monday stressed that the patient would be the ‘boss’ of the new National Health Scheme (NHS).
Speaking to reporters just days after the House Plenum passed legislation opening up the way for the first Cyprus NHS, Pamboridis repeated that patients would be able to enjoy all the included services apart from hospital stays from June 1, 2019.
These would also be included from June 1, 2020, he noted, all provided in return for an income-based contribution and nominal co-payments for some services.
These services, the minister underlined, would also be available to all legal residents of and visitors to Cyprus from the day of their birth until their death.
Pamboridis also said that the state had failed to bring in the new NHS legislation for 16 years before last Friday’s vote, in this way depriving Cypriot citizens of the health care other Europeans enjoyed.
“With the approval of these reforms, we have made a start on washing away this disgrace and giving every Cypriot what they deserve,” he said.
Thanking President Nicos Anastasiades for his support for the new NHS, Pamboridis said work on the first step, autonomy for hospitals, would begin directly.
He also said that the only way for someone to prevent the new NHS now, would be to convince the majority of MPs that it was a bad idea.
“The House has set out legislation for the start of the NHS on predefined dates without asterisks or footnotes,” Pamboridis said, continuing: “To be clear, if the House does not vote in any amendment to the law which was approved on Friday between today and May 1, 2018, there is no way the NHS will not be implemented”.
The Health Minister said he was focused on the fact that the House’s vote had been unanimous and that the state had taken a clear stance on the issue, and the peoples’ demand for a comprehensive health system.
Pamboridis also said those against the system’s introduction who had launched personal attacks against him in recent months should realise that he and the new NHS were two separate things.
“The NHS is not about me. It is about the people, it is for the people,” he said.
Pamboridis also noted that while medical professionals also stood to benefit from the new system, it was the patient who would be in charge.
“We must realise that our ‘boss’ will be the patient. He is the one who will, through his choice (of doctor or medical centre), decide where the money goes,” the minister said.
Pamboridis noted it would be important for health sector professionals to remember this and help make state hospitals’ approach more patient-centric, during the three to five years required for hospital autonomy to be achieved, and beyond.